The Peb Fort, also known as Vikatgad, is a popular trekking destination in Maharashtra, especially for those living in the cities of Pune and Mumbai. The Peb fort trek offers an exciting escape into the lush nature of the Sahyadris with a thrilling trail, magnificent views, and the serenity of forests and mountains. The 7 km trek is perfect for a day away from the rush of the city and into the natural wonder of Maharashtra.
The Vikatgad trek is one of the fort treks in Maharashtra that takes you over an easy to moderately graded trail through deep ravines and along sharp cliffs, over boulders and iron staircases, to the historic fort. Once there, you get to explore the ancient caves and cisterns, see the ruined rock walls and the small temple.
You also enjoy some splendid views of the Western Ghats, with verdant valleys, towering mountains, and distant lakes and villages. Don't forget to visit the famous bastion which is fondly called the Panorama Point for its stunning views of Matheran.
The Peb fort is located close to Matheran and Neral in Raigad District of Maharashtra. It is a part of the Western Ghats, surrounded by rich forests and other famous hills and forts. It is named after the local goddess, Pebi Devi. On the other hand, it derives its other name, Vikatgad, from the shape of its topmost peak that resembles the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha.
Like any other treks in the Western Ghats, the best time to go for the Peb fort trek is during the months of monsoon and winter. Though you can go during the summer season, the atmosphere is hot and humid, and not very comfortable.
But come monsoon, the Sahyadri landscape transforms into a lush paradise of radiant green blanketing the deep valleys and towering hills. This blanket, only broken by the various milky white waterfalls and perimeters of the paddy fields. And in stunning contrast to the verdant stretches are the dark clouds encompassing the vast horizons and engulfing the towering mountains. Read more on why monsoon is the best season for trekking in the Sahyadris of Maharashtra, click here.
And once monsoon makes way for winter, the thick clouds give way to the cerulean skies, and the radiant green forests and valleys are flooded with cool mist that rise with the sun, and the cool breeze that sways the trees and circle the imposing mountains. This season is perfect for those who want to keep their feet dry, but want to enjoy the stunning greenery of the Sahyadris with clear skies and misty views.
Day 1: Trek to the Peb Fort
Today, you have to report to the Neral Railway Station at 08:00 hrs and meet the trek leader there. They will then give you a briefing about the trek and the safety guidelines that you need to follow. After that, you’ll catch local transport to reach the starting point of the trek.
From there, you’ll begin your trek to the fort. You’ll cross through forests via a rocky trail that gets steep in some sections. You’ll also cross ridges and meadows, and some metal staircases. It takes around three and a half hours to get to the top.
Once at the top, you will explore the historic ruins of the fort. There are many things to see there like caves, cisterns and water reservoirs, etc. There is also a small temple. Don’t forget to take in the panoramic views of Matheran from the famous bastion of the fort.
After exploring the fort, you’ll begin your downwards trek to Dasturi Naka in Matheran. Here, you’ll walk along the narrow-gauge railway tracks of Matheran, through lush forests. After reaching Dasturi Naka, you’ll be dropped back to Neral by local transport. The Peb Fort trek ends here.
The Vikatgad fort trek package includes transport between the Neral Railway Station and the starting point of the trek. As for the meal package, the cost includes breakfast and evening snacks. And the price also includes the services of an experienced trek leader. Lastly, all applicable taxes are also included in the package.
The Peb fort trek package does not include lunch, so make sure you are carrying your own packed lunch for the trek. The package also does not include any kind of travel arrangements from your home city to Neral railway station.
Neither does the trek package include any kind of personal expenses such as beverages, tips to staff, etc. nor any kind of expenses arising out of unforeseen circumstances like bad weather, landslides, etc. Lastly, anything that is not included in the inclusions will be charged at an additional basis, as used.
Though the Peb Fort trek can be done throughout the year, it is best done in the monsoon or winter seasons. During the summer months, the weather is quite hot and humid, making it an unpleasant experience.
And what makes monsoon the best time to go for the Vikatgad fort trek is the breathtaking views of the lush landscapes stretching towards the horizon. In monsoon, you get to trek through flourishing forests and scented meadows and see the towering hills lined with milky waterfalls with their peaks disappearing into the clouds. Do note that during the monsoon, the trek becomes fairly challenging due to the slippery trail.
And in the winter season, the horizons are wrapped in mist, the winds are cool and soft, and the landscape is still many shades of green thanks to the recently passed monsoon. Trekking during this season is great as you get great misty views of the Sahyadris with verdant valleys and clear skies, and the trail itself is not slippery.
Not really, the Peb fort trek is an easy to moderate level trek that can be done by a fit beginner. The trek requires you to walk around 7 km in a span of 6 hours with some steep ascents. For this, you need some amount of fitness. As long as you are fit enough and listen to the trek leader's instructions, you can do this trek easily.
Neral is the closest town to the Peb Fort, hence, all the treks to the fort have a pick-up point designated here. It is also easily accessible from Mumbai and Pune via rail and road.
If you are coming from Mumbai, then you can catch a train from CST, Mumbai. There are around 10 trains running between CST and Neral per day. There are also some trains from Pune to Neral that you can take if you are coming from Pune. If you want, you can even take a taxi or local bus to get there, but the train is the most reliable most of the transport.
Once you arrive at the Neral railway station, the operator will take you to the starting point via local transport. The cost of this transport is included in the package. And once the trek ends at Dasturi Naka, Matheran, you'll be driven back to Neral via local transport. This, too, is included in the Peb Fort cost.
With these, you need to wear good quality trekking shoes that provide ample grip and support. This is especially important during monsoons when the trail can get a bit slippery. For the same reasons, avoid wearing sandals, slippers, sports shoes, etc.
For the Vikatgad fort trek, you need to carry a comfortable bag. Make sure this bag is big enough to hold all your luggage and study. In this bag, you need to carry a water bottle along with some dry snacks like biscuits, dry fruits, granola bars, etc. You should also carry all your personal essentials like sanitizer, tissue paper, towel, extra cash, etc. With these, you should also carry a cap, sunglasses and apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the harsh sun.
Lastly, some operators might not provide lunch, in which case, you also need to carry a packed lunch. Do remember to go through the inclusions and exclusions of the trek you are planning to book to know more about the meal package and other inclusions.
The Peb fort trek is an easy to moderate level trek, hence it is best suited for experienced trekkers. But even beginners with ample fitness levels can do this trek. Do note that the landscape can get a bit challenging during the monsoons due to the slippery landscape.
The trek requires you to walk around 7 km, hence you need to be comfortable trekking a gradual ascent and descent in six hours with few breaks. To ensure that you can do this, you can start preparing a few weeks prior by beginning a workout routine of jogging, swimming, cycling, etc.
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